The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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What accomplishment of Meyer Wolfsheim's does Gatsby describe to Nick? How does Nick react?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In chapter 4, Nick Carraway travels into New York City with Jay Gatsby for lunch and is introduced to Gatsby's shady business partner, Meyer Wolfshiem. After accidentally confusing Nick Carraway as a man interested in a business "gonnegtion," Meyer proceeds to tell Nick that Gatsby is an "Oggsford" man, who is a quintessential gentleman. After Meyer leaves the restaurant, Nick asks Gatsby if Meyer is an actor. Gatsby then explains to Nick that Meyer Wolfshiem is a successful gambler who was responsible for fixing the 1919 World Series. This information surprises Nick and he is astonished that someone could even pull off an accomplishment of that magnitude. When Nick asks Gatsby how Meyer happened to succeed at such a difficult task, Gatsby simply says that Meyer saw an opportunity. He also mentions that Meyer avoided prison because he was a smart man. Meyer Wolfshiem's mysterious character and questionable past further reveal that Gatsby is in someway connected to the criminal underworld.

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Doug Stuva eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Concerning your question about The Great Gatsby, I don't know if "accomplishment" is the best word to use, but Gatsby tells Nick about Wolfshiem's fixing of the 1919 World Series. 

Here's Nick's reaction:

The idea staggered me.  I remembered of course that the World's Series had been fixed in 1919 but if I had thought of it at all I would have thought of it as a thing that merely happened, the end of some inevitable chain.  It never occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of fifty million people--with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe.  (78)

Gatsby then explains that Wolfshiem simply saw the opportunity, and took it.  When Nick asks why Wolfshiem is not in jail, Gatsby tells him that Wolfshiem is a smart man--they can't get him. 

Nick then spots Tom in the room, and the conversation ends.  Nick is staggered and, if you will, flabbergasted.  The idea that a single man could be behind something so big never occurred to him.

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